Yesterday’s Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) forum offered a venue for GOP presidential hopefuls to try to outdo one another’s pro-Israel credentials. While all the candidates professed their commitment to the U.S.-Israel alliance, all the speeches were similarly uniform in their promises of hardline policies towards Iran and, in many cases, suggestions that military action against Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program might be justified in the near-term.
During the speeches and Q&A with RJC’s membership, the candidates liberally threw around talk of U.S. air strikes against Iran or allowing Israel to lead the way for a joint war, imposing “suffering from sanctions” on the Iranian people, sabotaging refineries and doing “whatever is necessary” to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
Watch a compilation of comments from the invited candidates:
But while the candidates and the RJC audience seem to think that the way to win over Republican primary voters is by promising military action, covert — though widely discussed — operations against Iran, and unconditional support for an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, there’s no consensus on these issues in Israel.
Last month, a Haaretz poll found that Israelis were nearly evenly split on whether Israel should attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, with 41 percent supporting a strike and 39 percent opposing. And former Mossad chief Meir Dagan has repeatedly warned that an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities could spark a devastating regional war and is the “stupidest thing I have ever heard.”
The RJC and the GOP presidential field claim to stand side by side with Israel, and are ready for war with Iran. But the views expressed at yesterday’s RJC Presidential Candidates Forum in Washington, DC, fail to reflect the diversity of public opinion in Israel and the potentially disastrous consequences of a U.S. and/or Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.